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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Persona (1966)

When an actress (Liv Ullmann) has a breakdown and refuses to talk, literally, a young nurse (Bibi Andersson) accompanies her to a summer cottage by the sea where she is to recover. But there in the island's solitude, the two women find themselves feeding off each other. One of Ingmar Bergman's greatest films (some say his greatest), this is a fascinating film full of deceptively simple imagery yet often obvious symbolism. It's not Bergman at his most subtle (has he ever been?) but the man is a genuine Artist and when you're in the hands of a master at his very best, subtlety be damned! The secrets of PERSONA remain secrets to this day which is part of the reason the film resonates so powerfully still. One can guess, but only guess, at what Bergman is telling us. His film is open to so many interpretations that each new viewing reveals another nugget or two to ponder over and as sure as we may be about our own analysis, in the end, it's just that, our own ... not definitive. Andersson's performance is superb (her monologue on a sexual encounter on the beach is a tour de force) but Ullmann's equally dynamic performance may be overlooked because Andersson has all the dialogue. One of the great works of cinema.

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